Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday Mormon – 21 Questions

In a previous post we saw how politically involved Mormons are in the United States and that a Mormon, Mitt Romney, ran for president in the 2008 elections and will run again in 2012.

In the midst of the publicity storm surrounding Mormonism at that time FOX News, at the end of 2007, compiled a list of 21 questions to put to The Mormon Church. I have used these before on my other blog as a useful aid to addressing Mormonism on key questions. With people already talking about 2012 I thought it might be an opportunity to reproduce them here.

The Church objected to answering some of the questions on the grounds that they misrepresent the basic tenets of the Mormon religion.

Quote. "Many of these questions are typically found on anti-Mormon blogs or Web sites which aim to misrepresent or distort Mormon doctrines," the church said in a statement. "Several of these questions do not represent ... any serious attempt to depict the core values and beliefs of its members."

You may judge for yourself whether the questions are fair and whether they have answered or evaded them. However, Mormons have traditionally revelled in the title “peculiar people” so it does seem churlish to complain when others ask about those things that mark them out as peculiar. We begin here to look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and quotes (Qu.) Some will be handled singly while others appear two or three to a post under a subject heading:

Q: Why do some call the Church a cult?

A: For the most part, this seems to stem from a lack of understanding about the Church and its core doctrines and beliefs. Under those circumstances it is too easy to label a religion or other organization that is not well-known with an inflammatory term like 'cult.' Famed scholar of religion Martin Marty has said a cult means a church you don't personally happen to like. We don't believe any organization should be subjected to a label that has come to be as pejorative as that one.

C: I have commented before on how peculiar it is that a church claiming to be Christian should be so consistently “misunderstood”, even by “other Christians”. The Mormons seem to be constantly fighting a rearguard action against misunderstandings and misconceptions. This is all the more puzzling for a church with an ongoing professional programme of self-promotion. Is Mormonism hard to understand?

Why does the Mormon Church continually have to “explain” itself? It is a truism that someone who does a lot of explaining usually has a lot of explaining to do. Blaming your detractors is simply not good enough; the Mormon Church does have a lot of explaining to do and it would be wise to ask why.

As to the assertion that no organisation should suffer the pejorative label of cult, it should be remembered that Mormonism is founded on the teaching that all the creeds of “Christendom” (that’s your church and mine) are “an abomination” and that all who profess those creeds (that’s you and me if you are a Christian) are “corrupt”.

Perhaps Mormons should remember that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones; that what goes around comes around; that people don’t so easily forget that Mormonism is established on terms that remain antagonistic to and pejorative of others.

The Mormon Church trades on the modern creed that every religion is of equal value, everyone’s right “in their own way”; that there is no blame and therefore no shame; and the “everyone’s a victim” culture of today. However, Christians know that there is right and wrong, truth and falsehood, righteousness and sin and a way that seems right to a man but that leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Mormonism is founded on the claim that the ways of Christendom lead to destruction. Christians, in turn, warn others that there is no salvation in Mormonism.

They teach that we are apostate, and we teach that they are a cult and in serious error. It is dishonest to continually insist that there is no reason for controversy. It’s a messy old place sometimes but welcome to the real world

11 comments:

  1. Mormons' theology is based on First Century Christianity, not Fourth Century Creeds. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views on Baptism, Lay Ministry, the Trinity, Theosis, Grace vs. Works, the Divinity of Jesus Christ comport more closely with Early Christianity than any other denomination. And Mormons’ teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study. Read about it here:

    http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com

    Those who would denigrate the Mormon religion, usually have an ulterior motive. 11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were non-Trinitarian Christians. Those who insist on a narrow definition of Christianity are doing our Republic an injustice

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  2. I would point out my blog commenting policy which can be found by going through the link on the top right side of the home page. Briefly, I don't allow anonymous comments except in special circumstances and when they are interesting. So if anyone is wondering where their deathless prose has gone, such as the following that held me breathless for moments, "What is the motivation beihnd this blog?" there is your answer.

    Regarding the claim about First Century Christianity and Creedal Christianity I have already covered this thoroughly in a previous post:

    http://mormonchapbook.blogspot.com/2010/05/mormonism-and-creedal-christianity.html

    I suggest you apply yourself to answering the challenge I issued there and respond on that post. I would be interested in your thoughts regarding the substance of this post, i.e. if Mormonism regards all other churches as false then aren't Mormon being disingenuous in protesting against others calling them a cult?

    Regarding the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, since I am not in your republic I can't see any practical application in the current discussion. This is not about the Founding Fathers of the United States but the Christian gospel and the challenge that Mormonism is not it.

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  3. Mike, I would love to comment, but I don't have a google account, AIM or any other account listed. As per your commenting policy using anonymous is fruitless. So my question is (for a computer illiterate, what is a valid URL to use)

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  4. I am sorry if my rules on publishing anonymous comments and my responses to those comments seem harsh. I don't deny space to all anonymous comments and am more than happy to make exceptions along the lines I have already explained. I take the view that if I put my name to what I think and believe then it is only reasonable to ask others to do the same. But that there are valid reasons for being anonymous I understand.

    I know that some need to ask honest questions anonymously and if someone makes themselves known to me, even by a pseudonym, I will of course accommodate them. If an anonymous comment moves the discussion along I am also happy to give the benefit of the doubt and publish. Yours is another example.

    What I don't like is what is sometimes called "drivebys" where a terse and unhelpful comment is left and no opportunity to discuss issues is in prospect because there is no real engagement. It has been my sad experience that some people feel justified in doing this.

    By all means, if you make clear your reasons then I welcome your comments. I hope this is helpful.

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  5. As per your policy, my comment from yesterday shoulod have been published. I mean no ill will but desire frank and open conversation. I feel that I asked a valid question and plan on addressing other topics as time allows. If you have concerns please email me at nielson_erik@hotmail.com to address them off record.

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  6. Erik, I apologise if I have missed something here but I am not aware of a comment from you yesterday. Are you saying you made a comment giving your name as you have done now? When did you comment and what did you say?

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  7. My comment was brief. It centered on the insistance of using the word cult. According to the original definition of the word, truly all followers of Christ are members of a cult, regardless of the name of the denomination. Today that word has morphed with severely negative connotations. The insistance of singling out a few for the deliberate purpose of using this word to paint negative if not satanic view.

    So why don't others use a more appropriate word such as sect?

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  8. I am sorry I missed your comment Erik and assure you I would have published it had I been able to. I don't know what happened but I am glad you have had your say now.

    You address a subject that has exercised me for years. I understand your point about the today's application of the word "cult" when compared with its original meaning.

    Israel might be said to have, for a time, followed the cult of the temple. Many Catholics are said today, in a quite positive way, to follow the cult of Mary. As you point out, followers of Jesus might have correctly been called cultists in this sense that a cult can be defined as "devotion to a person, idea, or thing."

    I have sought other words that might convey the same meaning as I intend but that might be more acceptable but so far to no avail. I come across the same problem, which is that I intend a negative connotation so it makes no sense to avoid such. No other word, then, conveys so clearly what I mean.

    It is also true that, whatever its original meaning, a perfectly legitimate dictionary definition of "cult" today is, "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious." Mormonism qualifies on two counts in that it follows Joseph Smith (I know you want to object) and it is the fact that I regard it as "unorthodox or spurious."

    "Sect" is an interesting word. A sect is defined as "a discenting or schismatic body." Mormonism disqualifies itself from this category by insisting it is "neither Catholic nor Protestant." Sect carries the idea of a breakaway group and that implies some identity with the larger group from which it is discenting. Because I don't agree that Mormonism is in any respect Christian I cannot allow the word "sect" as I might allow it for Plymouth Brethren, or SDA's for instance.

    I am open to ideas but it must be borne on mind that whatever language I use it has to be understood by readers who already have a settled idea of what constitiutes a cult.

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  9. Of course I object to the use of the word cult. You admit to purposefully using to denote a negative connotation.

    You also admit to knowing that the LDS object to the use of the word in reference to the lie and delusion that we follow Joseph Smith. We no more follow Joseph Smith that the new Christians followed Peter or Paul. Jesus Christ is the sole being we worship and look to for direction. If this format is wrong, that so is much of the New Testament. And as far as spurious doctrine, it will be shown, I am certain that the doctrine I and many other live by is the biblical Christianity.

    So in light of all this, it is important that we pick one topic you have determined to be strictly orthodox and see what God thinks.

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  10. Erik, You are clearly not in any frame of mind to enter into meaningful discussion. You are too busy being shocked and affronted that anyone should dare question your church's credentials.

    I have a programme planned for the blog and don't intend to "jump in" on a topic from the list which, as I have said, was simply representative. Feel free to jump in when something you find interesting comes up and perhaps when you feel more - phlegmatic.

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  11. Mike,

    You hardly know my state of mind. My profession has trained me to be, well, honest and at times blunt. I am very used to having my beliefs questioned. I'm more disappointed in you. For someone who professes to be Christian to be slandering is not very Christlike. I know enough about the tenets of true Christianity, ie the church that I belong to, to hardly be swayed by every fabrication that presents itself.

    As soon as a topic is introduced I will happily defend the true teachings and church of Jesus Christ.

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